Encourage Innovation In Your Company

better mousetrapThe phrase “build a better mousetrap” is used often when defining innovation. Some say the mouse trap we are all familiar with is so simple and effective that there is little room for improvement. The fact is someone did literally invent a better mouse trap.

The traditional method was to pull back the lever, position the hook, and try to place the trap without releasing the hook and snapping a finger. Somebody recognized the problem this created and developed a mouse trap with a spring loaded ratchet. As you pull the lever back the ratchet locks it in place so it will not snap on your finger. It can only be released if the trigger is physically activated.

You may be trying to “build a better mouse trap” in your business. It might be a process to improve efficiencies. Or perhaps you want to create a product that is cheaper, better or faster than anything currently on the market.

So how do you even begin to innovate?

Here is a simple 5 step process to encourage innovation

  1. Identify a “pain” that is creating a high level of dissatisfaction in your organization or for your customer. Depending on your industry this might include high levels of waste of material or labour. It might mean eliminating tasks that people hate to do or trying to save them time.
  2. Brainstorm and list all the possible solutions that could remove the “pain”. Question the “status quo” and don’t accept anything at face value. Avoid getting caught up in how you will do it, just dare to dream and envision how life will be better with the solution. A truly innovative idea will be faster, better or less expensive than current options.
  3. Decide on the one single solution that will have the biggest positive impact with the least amount of effort or resources.
  4. Determine the first step (however small) you must take to start the innovation process.
  5. Act Now!

Develop a culture to encourage innovation by providing the process that allows employees to take action. Devote time and money to innovation. Reward innovation if possible. The return on investment can be immense.

The person who invented the “better mouse trap” was motivated by the need to eliminate injury while setting the trap. Innovation starts with the motivation to drive change.

Employees are walking around your facility right now with fantastic and innovative ideas in their heads. Some of those ideas could have a profound effect on your company. Ask them for their input on how they would improve your product or improve a process. Innovative solutions are often right in front of us. It just takes the first step to make it happen.

Tony Malyk, Vancouver Business Performance Coach

Tony Malyk

Tony Malyk is a Certified Professional Business Coach and Business Value Accelerator specializing in improving profitability and increasing business value in the manufacturing, distribution, trades and technology sectors.